Northern League club Birkenhead United have signed Waiheke United’s top goalscorer Niko Vanina a week ahead of the June 30 transfer deadline.
Vanina (30) has led the scoring for Waiheke over the past three seasons, scoring 22 goals in the Northern League and the next tier below.
He was a key part of Waiheke’s promotion-winning team from the Lotto NRFL first division in 2021 when he found the net 11 times, and last season he scored five goals at Northern League level before the islanders were relegated.
Vanina has scored six goals in 11 games for Waiheke this season, despite the club struggling at the foot of the Lotto NRFL Men’s Championship table.
Vanina has been at Waiheke United since arriving from Argentinian club CA Tallares in 2019.
Main photo: Niko Vanina tries to find space between two Tauranga City players during April’s match in the Lotto NRFL Men’s Championship. Photo: Jackie Tran Van / Phototek.
Defender returns to Birkenhead from league rivals
Birkenhead United have also bolstered their defence with the return of central defender Andrew Cromb (22), who left the club for Northern League rivals Takapuna at the start of this season.
He’s been an ever-present for Takapuna this season, and had previously made more than 50 first-team appearances for Birkenhead.
Birkenhead’s signings have been made in time for Saturday’s Northern League fixture against champions Auckland City, which starts at 3pm at McFetridge Park, Glenfield.
Winger leaves for trial with English club
While two players have arrived at Birkenhead, another is leaving for a six-week trial with English League One side Burton Albion.
Codey Phoenix (18) is a promising winger and leaves in search of a professional career.
English-born, Phoenix was at East Coast Bays throughout his youth career, except for the 2020 season when he turned out for Hibiscus Coast.
He signed for Birkenhead last year and has been versatile, able to play as a full back or wide midfield/forward.
Game to be played on Saturday June 24, 2023
Birkenhead United v Auckland City
McFetridge Park, Glenfield, 3pm